Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

We often look for silver bullets.

We look for those perfect, single, solutions that we can use to take out and solve an issue or problem.

Or, we look backwards to see what was that thing, the one thing, that caused something to happen.

Unfortunately, that silver is rarely so shiny.   There exist few actual silver bullets.

It’s easy to get caught in the trap, though:

“If I push a ball, the ball rolls.  Cause and effect.  Hit thumb with hammer equals ow.  No surprise.  Ergo, it’s usually one thing (or one main thing) causes another thing.”

It seems silly when spelled out like that, but yet… we do it, don’t we?  Off we go, looking for silver bullets.

Thing is, even the ball rolling isn’t so straightforward.  We may not even pause to wonder, “What had me push the ball in the first place?”  Or,”If I chose to push the ball, how did I get my body to do that?”

We can play with an example that yesterday, we lost a dollar on the street, and it didn’t faze us one bit.  Today, we dropped our pen on the floor at work, and we fall to pieces.  Huh.

Turns out there are a lot of variables there, a lot of things acting in concert, making their influence felt, from why we are dropping things, to why pens upset us more than dollars, or to just why being at work puts us in a different frame of mind than being on the street.

And the larger the effect or result or incidence, the more likely it is that multiple influences played a role in its development.

When we look at directions and outcomes and even just the “what’s so” of our lives, or in society, or about the world at large, often we can, just on our own, come up with a number of possibilities to “explain” the why and the how and the now.  If we ask others, we can probably get many more.

Consider that all of these are valid, and they may all have played a role.  And, conversely, had they not all been present in some fashion, the outcome would not have happened.

Knowing how to proceed, how to work towards what we all want in life, we need to get as broadly grounded as we can, and from there we can choose where to apply ourselves, what to transform.  We need to get the lay of the whole land, and the wind and the rivers and the trees, not just that which is directly in front of our feet.  We can imagine things complexly.

Likewise, we need to plan and work broadly.  Just as it is many things that led us to where we are, there are many things we can work in concert, each one supporting and amplifying the other, to drive towards the new possibility.  To only work on one – our supposed silver bullet – will leave gaps and soft spots that can make our progress tenuous and unstable.  We may not reach everyone, or every thing, and influences that created the situation can continue to flow unabated and undermine our work.  Difficulty may discourage us entirely.

As nice as silver bullets would be, there is a distinct lack thereof.  Be it in our personal lives, our society, or the world at large, influences and avenues are much broader.

Maybe it’s time for a new metaphor:  Let’s find the silver shotguns.